Does exercise affect breastfeeding?

RossLucas Fit Pregnancy, Pregnancy, Training through pregnancy

I find a common concern that I deal with when training new mothers are their fears about how exercise can affect their milk production. I want to use this blog to help ease your fears and give you the confidence to continue to train.

I think to help stop mothers concerns we have to first highlight where these fears originated from, certainly there is large section of the older generation that will feel that exercise can influence milk production, but this is now becoming an out dated view with much more research being placed in this area. The truth is the first study that showed exercise can have a negative effect of milk production was done many, many years ago, and yes exercise did negatively affect milk production; however, what you probably didn’t know, was that these studies were made on dairy cows and not humans. Dairy farmers were trying to work out how to increase milk production to increase profits, what they found was that when the cows were exercising they produced less milk, this then let to the common misconception if it happens to cows, it must happen to humans. This is not the case.

If mothers are breastfeeding their baby, studies have shown that exercise does not affect the volume of milk that they produce. On the contrary, some studies have suggested that women who exercised after their pregnancy tended to have a higher milk volume. However, high intensity exercise might increase lactic acid in breast milk for up to 90 minutes after exercise. Lactic acid in breast milk can cause it to have a slightly bitter taste for the baby. It is therefore advisable to schedule feeding times prior to exercise or to reduce the exercise intensity whilst breastfeeding.

In conclusion I would say don’t let old wives’ tails put you off from exercising, learn the facts, have the confidence to exercise and have the knowledge to put right the non believers. Listen to your body, if you do worry that you are not producing enough milk there are many factors this could be, malnutrition and hormones being the most obvious reasons. Despite the want to fit back into your skinny jeans now is not the time to start a weight lose diet, your biggest priority is giving your baby enough nutrition to grow big and strong, if you are eating clean and training well you should still lose those extra kilos. Good luck and as always if you have any questions then please leave a comment or email me any time.